Jordan Leggett sat at a booth in Philadelphia as part of a 2017 NFL Draft promotion with Panini, and the former Clemson tight end saw some familiar faces.
He shared a booth with receiver Mike Williams. Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins signed stickers in the booth to the left. Wayne Gallman held down the corner booth, and linebacker Ben Boulware was off somewhere looking for his wallet. Leggett wasn't surprised by that at all. He doesn't think you should be either.
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"It's kind of like we never left college," Leggett said.
Clemson beat Alabama 35-31 in the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 9, a thriller in which Deshaun Watson threw a last-second TD pass to Hunter Renfrow to give the Tigers their first national championship since 1981. Now Dabo Swinney will send another large draft class to the NFL. The Tigers could have double-digit players to the 2017 NFL Draft over the next few days, which would top last year's group of nine. Leggett was part of a class that finished 49-7 over the last four years, and that included back-to-back ACC championships and appearances in the championship game.
"Winning as much as did while we were at Clemson and going into this draft class we have probably two first-rounders," Leggett said. "It’s going to be a good day for Clemson."
Watson and Williams are considered first-round picks, while Leggett and his other teammates will be selected from a program that has produced the seventh-most NFL Draft picks this decade. That’s how far Clemson has come under Swinney, and that hit home for Leggett when the Tigers received their championship rings.
"It’s kind of been a fast forward,” Leggett said. "The national championship happened then it was straight to training. Straight from training to the (NFL) Combine, then back to training and Pro Day. It’s been all gas and no brakes. You really haven’t had time to enjoy it too much but it’s been special."
Leggett is another projected high-round pick as part of a loaded tight end class, and he said the excitement of the draft comes with figuring out where his teammates will be selected, and whether some of them will wind up on the same team. The Panini promotion allowed him another chance to hang out with those teammates again.
This is a group that took advantage of their opportunities at Clemson.
"Just to win the way we did was special," Leggett said. "That's something in the back of our heads going forward that we did college to the fullest, honestly."
Panini partnered with several NFL Draft prospects in advance of the 2017 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. Leggett and others signed stickers and other memorabilia as part of the event.
"This is something special you get to do," Leggett said. "Sign a bunch of stickers and make a little bit of change from it. This is going to go out to all the fans. I hope it goes up in somebody's house. It's pretty cool."